Thursday, October 8, 2015

10-8-2015 Entry: Being Harrased in Public for Being Trans

Hello darlings! I hope you are doing well. I’m definitely feeling frustrated this morning, so hopefully you are doing better than I am.

I’m not exactly sure about what’s been bothering me over the last few days but I feel the need to write this out to see where it goes. I think it all started with me being harassed on the street for being trans.

That’s right, Emma, transwoman extraordinaire, was the victim of public harassment just for being herself; and the worst part is that it’s not the first time. I’m not sure I ever blogged about the previous encounter (although I might have briefly mentioned it) but this most recent incident was the second time I’ve been blatantly harassed for being trans.

So, what happened? Well, the first incident was a few weeks ago and at first I didn’t realize what was happening. I was walking from work to the parking ramp I leave my car at when I drive to work when it happened. The ramp is about three blocks away from work and is located rather close to a homeless shelter (one that is known for safety issues; i.e. someone was stabbed like a month ago and a few people have been robbed in recent months). As I was walking along the last block I passed by a woman and a man hanging out on the sidewalk, maybe smoking a cigarette (I wasn’t really paying attention). Out of the corner of my eye I felt the woman look at me and make some sort of expression. After walking a few paces I heard her say “Juwanna man.”

I wasn’t positive if she was talking to me or not, but those words rang a bell in my head. Although I struggled to remember what they meant I had a fleeting memory of some movie about a cross dressing man (I later discovered that to be exactly what it was). I decided to ignore it and kept walking. As I continued towards the parking ramp entrance I heard her say something like “it was a man.”

Still, I tried to ignore this woman, uncertain if she was talking about me or not and kept walking. Again, I heard her say in a louder voice “we know you’re a man!” by time she said this I was at the far end of the block starting to cross the street, so I decided it wasn’t worth confronting this lady. I entered the ramp, took the elevator up to the 5th level, walked to my car, and got into it fuming mad. The more I thought about what happened the more I became convinced she WAS talking about me the whole time and that she was being really awful too.

I wanted nothing more than to drive my car over to where she was hanging out, park it, get out, and kick the crap out of her. How dare she be so rude and cruel to me. How dare she try to define me without knowing anything at all about me. I felt such rage, and beneath the rage, fear. Never in my life had I experienced something like this. Sure, I would get stopped all the time as Robert by incoherent and possibly mentally ill people on the street asking me for things (usually money), but I never really feared for my safety. None of them ever turned violent and the ones who became angry never became threatening, and understandably so. I was a tall, rather burly/large, white male.

My physicality and my social privilege as a Caucasian protected me from violent or harassing responses. I was never blatantly mocked or ridiculed just for being a white dude on the street. I was never compared to a character in a movie. If anything, I was generally avoided, ignored, or invisible. I was just another white dude in in the city wearing business clothes.

As I felt the powerful and violent emotions course through me I stopped, took notice of what was happening, and decided to just allow it to be. After a moment or two I started to examine the emotions. Why was I so triggered? Clearly my defense mechanisms were in full swing as I wanted nothing more than to physically assault this woman for her intolerance, but there was more going on. That’s when the fear became clear to me. I went into myself, sought out that inner child that’s always at the center of an emotional reaction, and found that little Emma felt not only afraid but deeply rejected.

“You see, they will never accept us as we are. All they want to do is hurt us! We are worthless.” She moaned to me.

I knelt down, put my arms around her shaking body and tried to comfort her by explaining, “Just because one person is so filled with intolerance that they cannot see your beauty and worth, doesn’t mean you don’t matter. She lashed out at us because of her own suffering, not because we deserved her cruel words. She tried to hurt us because she, herself, is in pain. You are beautiful, you are powerful, and you are important. Never doubt that”

That seemed to do the trick because as soon as I had comforted that inner-child version of Emma, the powerful emotions subsided. It was okay to be angry, to feel fear, and to worry about our safety, and as such, we could move on. I forgave that woman as best as I could at the time and moved on with my day.

That emotional work within me, however, wouldn’t last as I encountered the same woman in the same spot again, just a few days ago. Again I was walking to the parking ramp, on my way to an appointment when I encountered the same woman and the same man hanging out on the sidewalk, smoking a cigarette. Had I noticed them earlier I might have chosen to walk on the other side of the street, but by time I realized it was them, it was already too late.

Immediately, almost without thought, the defense mechanisms activated. I was in no mood to be trifled with and I wasn’t about to let some cruel lady on the street harass me about being trans. I hadn’t put makeup on that day because I was too tired from the previous 15 hour Monday and Tuesday, so I knew that I wasn’t very passable (Especially several hours after shaving). I figured that if this woman had read me as trans when I was in full makeup, then she would absolutely read me today.

As I approached the duo, I kept a scowling eye on the woman to see if she was going to pull her shit again. She caught my gaze and immediately recognized me. She said “it’s the man!” as I walked in front of her.

I couldn’t help myself from responding with, “Fuck you bitch.”

I was so mad, so angry, and so fearful about the situation. This woman was proving that our previous interaction wasn’t a fluke and that she was going to be a problem. My response only seemed to further animate her because she started to shout after me, “It’s a man! It’s a man! I know you aren’t a woman! You can’t fool me, you’re a man!”

I just kept walking, willing myself away from her and away from a court date for getting into a physical altercation with some transphobic bitch on the street. She just kept shouting, “It’s a man! It’s a man!” as loud as she could, trying to get anyone’s attention that she could. Luckily there weren’t really any other pedestrians nearby to hear her cruel words, but the damage was done.

Up until now I have been lucky with the way people act towards me and how they treat me (in no small part because of the inherent privileges grated to Caucasians in the US). I’ve had some minor setbacks and some less-than-desirable interactions with people who’ve read me as trans, but I’ve never really been harassed before. I’ve never had anyone react in a violent way (and yes, this was a form of violence), but now I have joined the ranks of transwomen all around the world who’ve had to fear for their safety because they’ve been attacked or harassed because of their gender.

I’m fortunate that it wasn’t worse than it was. I’m fortunate that her male companion didn’t really join in. I’m fortunate that there weren’t other people with her that might have ganged up on me, harassed me, or attacked me. I was lucky, this time. There is no guarantee that won’t happen in the future though. At present my conflict with this woman has only escalated and I honestly don’t know how to fix it.

I do not want to avoid this person because I shouldn’t have to. I shouldn’t have to stop walking to my car the way I have for months on end because this person has made it her mission to out me to the world. Fuck her, and fuck her small minded hatred. I won’t let her win, I won’t let her think it’s fucking okay to do this to people. I’m quite convinced she spends a lot of time at the nearby homeless shelter and if I had to guess she’s had a hard life, but that’s no excuse for her actions. I am disinclined to be the passive victim of her ridicule, but I don’t know how to proceed with this.

I do not wish to get into a physical fight with her, because I don’t revel in the consequences of that situation, but I want to stand up to her. I want to show her that I will not be intimidated by her, even if I have felt a fear I’ve never known. Emma, transwoman extraordinaire, does not give in so easily and doesn’t back down from a challenge.

Being transgender does not mean I am weak and it absolutely does not mean that I can be bullied or harassed on the street. I am no man, and she has no right to allege anything of the sort, let alone shout it at the top of her lungs to the whole world.

I am so pissed off about this. I’m sure that’s clear, but I am really really angry about this. Little Emma is afraid and big Emma is inclined to fucking protect her. That little girl inside of me doesn’t deserve this kind of treatment. She doesn’t deserve to have someone try to make her feel like she has no worth, that she isn’t real or doesn’t matter. We didn’t overcome all of our biggest fears only to have some crazy bitch on the streets try to tear that down.

No, fuck that. I hope I do run into her again because this time I’m not just going to walk away and allow her to think it’s okay to do this to people. What I’ll do exactly, I’m not sure, but I’m not going to avoid this. I’ve avoided conflict all my life, but I’m a new person now, and I will not be a doormat for abuse.

I am strong. I am smart. I am worthy of love and happiness. I am a good person who does good things. I am not weak and I am not a victim. I refuse to let this go on the way it has up to now. I will show her the meaning of confidence and the power of living a true life.


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